ON OUR RADAR - First Look at Metro Manila All the updates Images, Posters, Clips

Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Saturday, February 09, 2013

metro manilaWe are huge fans of Director Sean Ellis’s work and are always keeping our ear to the ground for any news on his projects, so were very excited to get some updates over the weekend.

 If you don’t know Sean Ellis’s work by now you really should - Ellis has already achieved remarkable success as a high end photographer & directing commercials with his films exhibiting all the technical ability of a future master film maker honing his craft and we can’t wait to see his next feature Metro Manila.

Metro Manila gets an Official HD Trailer
- Announcement: Metro Manila gets its UK premiere at Sundance UK we have dates and times!
- Metro Manila gets a brand new French poster and an updated International Poster
- Announcement: Metro Manila to be screened at the Berlin Festival festival & audiences are loving Metro Manila
- We find 3 clips from Metro Manila and some images
- Metro Manila gets a poster
- A brief production update from Director Sean Ellis on Metro Manila current status
- We get a behind the scenes Metro Manila photo & Synopsis

If you a regular reader of The Establishing Shot you know that I earmarked Sean Ellis’s Metro Manila as one of my hot upcoming releases – from the moment I heard about it I have been waiting to see it - a merging of World, Art and Heist Cinema. How could I not?

Metro Manila International poster
Metro Manila updated International Poster (click to enlarge)
Metro Manila gets an Official HD Trailer

Sundance  announced an additional three films have been added the Sundance London feature film programme including Metro Manila for its UK Spotlight — Drawing on the Sundance Film Festival’s rich legacy of premiering outstanding films produced in the UK – including An Education, Four Weddings and a Funeral, In Bruges, In the Loop, Kinky Boots, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels – this new showcase presents a selection of UK films that premiered in Park City, Utah.

In the UK Spotlight is Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award winner Metro Manila – seeking a better life, Oscar and his family move from the poverty-stricken rice fields to the big city of Manila, where they fall victim to various inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival.

Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals. Oscar catches a lucky break when he’s offered steady work for an armored truck company and gregarious senior officer Ong takes him under his wing. Soon, though, the reality of his work’s mortality rate and the murky motives of his new partner force Oscar to confront the perils he faces in his new job and life.

Director Sean Ellis received the Audience Award for World Cinema by capturing the desperation of life amongst the squalid Manila slums, then ratchets up the tension, creating an intense thriller with a poignant humanity and palpable dramatic stakes. In the role of Oscar, Jake Macapagal brings emotional depth to the wrenching choices he must make to sustain his family.

Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers

Metro Manila Sundance London screening dates and times
26 April  –  9pm
28 April  –  11.30am

These additions join the following previously announced titles:
A.C.O.D. (Director: Stuart Zicherman, Screenwriters: Ben Karlin, Stuart Zicherman) — Carter is a well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce. So he thinks. When he discovers he was part of a divorce study as a child, it wreaks havoc on his family and forces him to face his chaotic past. Cast: Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O'Hara, Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clark Duke. (Narrative) International Premiere

Mud (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Nichols) — Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and reunite him with his true love. Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon. (Narrative) UK Premiere

Sundance Institute, which annually presents the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A., selected the film and panel programming. Including the three films announced today, Sundance London will present 21 feature films and nine short films across four sections, including a new UK Spotlight. Of the 30 films in the festival, 26 films will make their international, European or UK premieres at Sundance London. Ten are by female filmmakers and six are by first-time feature filmmakers. The films collectively received 12 awards, including two Audience Awards, when they premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, “With the addition of these three films, Sundance London will present an even more well rounded programme of independent films that represents the work we show at our Festival in Utah. In addition, each offers audiences a unique experience to interact with the artists behind exciting, challenging and entertaining work.”

Tickets for all Sundance London films and panels, including those announced on March 11, are now on sale at www.sundance-london.com.

For more information visit www.sundance-london.com or follow @SundancefestUK on Twitter.

Metro Manila French poster
Metro Manila International French Poster (click to enlarge)
Metro Manila is currently wowing sold out cinema audiences on the Festival circuit, getting a great buzz (“Best film I've seen at the 2013 Sundance Festival!”) and reviews (Empire described it as “The Raid as made by Michael Winterbottom, one of the best films of the festival, poetic, authentic and damn near perfect.” - 4 stars from The Guardian “a poetic and searingly realistic migrant drama that gradually becomes a crime story”) it also won an audience award at Sundance. That is exactly the kind of stuff I want to hear about a Sean Ellis film.

Metro Manila follows Oscar Ramirez and his family after leaving the poverty stricken rice fields in the northern Philippines to seek opportunities in Manila, where he hopes to find better work. Things take a turn for the better when Oscar gets a job as an armoured car driver. But soon Oscar learns that all is not what it seems and has to face the dangers of his new life ...
metro manila Jake Macapagal
Image: Metro Manila  Ramirez family fleeing
We managed to find two brand new and very diverse Metro Manila clips online the first short the calm before the storm clip shows Oscar Ramirez (Jake Macapagal) his wife Mai (Althea Vega) and daughter Angel Ramirez (Erin Panlilio) all wide eyed and full of hope on their arrival in Manila.

Video: Metro Manila - Arrival in Manila Clip                                    

In the second longer clip gears shift and the mood sinks ominously as Sean Ellis masterfully turns up the atmosphere and  we become painfully aware of the desperation that Oscar and his family are enduring.
Video: Metro Manila - A toast Clip

It is hard to keep my expectations in check with the buzz being generated around Metro Manila and that second clip which shows a bit of what we can expect from Sean Ellis and his cast.

metro manila Jake Macapagal
Image: Metro Manila  things are spiralling out of control for Oscar Jake Macapagal 
We found a third clip that can only be accessed via the LA Times website here (link on the bottom right) that introduces some of the action as Oscar's partner Ong (John Arcilla) tells him a tale of his previous history as an armoured guard.

metro manila John Arcilla
Image: Metro Manila armour guards on the job Ong - John Arcilla
I'm jealous of the guys in Berlin lucky enough to get into a screening at the Festival this week.  My chance to see Metro Manila cannot come soon enough. Although Metro Manila has been picked up by Haut et Court for release in France this May no word yet on a UK release date.

I first came to know Ellis’s work when I was introduced to his Academy nominated short film Cashback by a friend back in 2005. It stars a hotbed of UK talent like amongst others: Michelle Ryan, Sean Biggerstaff, Michael Dixon, Emilia Fox, Keeley Hazell and Mad Men’s Jared Harris. Ellis went on to expand the multiple award winning 18 minute short into a full feature that absolutely blew my mind - it was something so fresh an original and unlike anything else that British filmmakers of the day were thinking about - there are no guns, no gangsters, no exploitive grimy environmental conditions, no revenge or hidden agendas but there is a kind of a feel good factor without the saccharine after taste that is sadly all to rare on British screens.

 The Establishing Shot: Cashback Trailer Cashback Trailer

Cashback is one of those rare films that manages to merge Art and Cult in an absorbing tale that is a joy to watch. It is on my list of greatest films ever made and even though Ellis is an accomplished photographer it is hard to believe that Cashback was his directorial debut.

At first glance Cashback may be accused of being light of depth and a feature length film shot with a commercial’s sensibilities but past Sean Ellis and Cinematographer Angus Drayton's masterful handling of the visual aesthetics that fold into the haunting and dreamy soundtrack, the incredibly likeable and engaging characters - Cashback evokes emotion and feeling somewhere between nostalgia and youthful hope. Something that many films try to do but few succeed at.

It is also one of those films that treats London in a way that every day Londoners see it rather than the tourist postcard version or antithetically seeking out its dark underbelly.

 For his next film The Broken Ellis goes in a completely different direction showing his versatility with an original and suspense laden tale of Doppelgangers in London. 

Video: The Broken Trailer (Lena Headey)

The Broken is an intelligent and dark tale not for everyone but it cannot be denied that it is a competent and original story, that doesn’t fall back on clichés as it unwraps a dark and moody mystery. Again Ellis exceeds at building a universe that allows a claustrophobic nightmare to come to life allowing his cast to shine.

The Broken stars; Lena Headey, Ulrich Thomsen, Melvil Poupaud and Richard Jenkins. 

A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to catch a screening of Cashback and QA with the Cashback team courtesy of Tiger’s Undiscovered Treasure season

 Video: Undiscovered Treasures | Cashback | Q&A |  

After wards I got chatting to the team and in between having my mind blown at just how cool they all are - I asked Sean what he was working on next and he let me know that he had been shooting Metro Manila in the Philippines. He didn't give me to much detail but the story concerns the relationship between two cash in transit guards that become embroiled in a heist situation in busy Manila.

Hearing Sean talk about I was engrossed and a crime drama set in the dangerous and fast paced city of Manila seen through Sean Ellis’s eyes had my expectations running high. Just look at the Metro Manila poster below and you can feel the claustrophobia and weight of the city weighing down on the guy.

Metro Manila Film Poster
Metro Manila Film Poster (Click to enlarge)
With his third feature, Metro Manila, Ellis again challenges himself as he heads into unknown territory with a straight up Thriller - Drama set in the Philippines, made in its native language. The official Metro Manila synopsis follows:
Seeking a better life, Oscar Ramirez and his family decide to move from the poverty stricken rice fields of the Northern Philippine mountain ranges and journey towards the capital mega city of Metro Manila. Upon arriving in the big city, it isn't long before they fall foul to various city inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Oscar lands a job as a driver for an armoured truck company and is befriended by Ong, his senior officer. It soon becomes apparent that Ong has been waiting for the arrival of someone just like Oscar for some time. A few simple acts of kindness from Ong place Oscar in his debt; a debt that leads to blackmail as Ong forces Oscar to help him in a robbery of the company they both work for. 
As with his previous films Ellis is very hands on with the story, producing and directing but for Metro Manila he also picks up lead camera man duty so no doubt we will be getting very close to the drama/action as it takes place.

sean ellis metro manila
Image: Behind the scenes with Sean Ellis on the Metro Manila set (Stolen from the Metro Manila Facebook page over here!)

 Metro Manila is currently in post production and a couple of weeks ago an image appeared on the Metro Manila Facebook page letting us know that it was in it’s final week of Sound Mixing. But earlier today Sean gave us a quick update letting us know that Metro Manila:
Metro Manilla is very near the finishing line. It has taken a lot longer than originally planned (as it always does) and is expected to be completed by the end of the May” 
After that Metro Manila will hit the festival circuit and hopefully go into distribution. It has been 4 yours since The Broken and can’t wait for Metro Manila to hit the big screen. 

 For more information and updates on Metro Manila head over to: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Metro-Manila-Film/222304481196095 

Metro Manila will be in cinemas on 20 September 2013
Seeking a better life, Oscar Ramirez and his family decide to move from the poverty stricken rice fields of the Northern Philippine mountain ranges and journey towards the capital mega city of Metro Manila. Upon arriving in the big city, it isn't long before they fall foul to various city inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Oscar lands a job as a driver for an armored truck company and is befriended by Ong, his senior officer. It soon becomes apparent that Ong has been waiting for the arrival of someone just like Oscar for some time. A few simple acts of kindness from Ong place Oscar in his debt; a debt that leads to blackmail as Ong forces Oscar to help him in a robbery of the company they both work for 

Director: Sean Ellis 
Writers: Sean Ellis & Frank E. Flowers 
Stars: Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega and John Arcilla 



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